SGU Episode 913

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SGU Episode 913
January 7th 2023
913 lunar gps lowres.jpg

From Aerospace Systems and Training LLC: The ability to use GPS for navigation on the lunar surface would allow astronauts the ability to travel over the lunar surface with GPS receivers attached to their lunar rovers.

SGU 912                      SGU 914

SGU 861 ← predictions

Skeptical Rogues
S: Steven Novella
B: Bob Novella
C: Cara Santa Maria
J: Jay Novella
E: Evan Bernstein
Quote of the Week

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Groucho Marx, American comedian

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Show Notes
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Introduction, reflections on the recent past[edit]

Voice-over: You're listening to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, your escape to reality.

S: Hello and welcome to the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. Today is Wednesday, January 4th, 2023, and this is your host, Steven Novella. Joining me this week are Bob Novella...

B: Hey, everybody!

S: Cara Santa Maria...

C: Howdy.

S: Jay Novella...

J: Hey guys.

S: ...and Evan Bernstein.

E: Happy New Year, everyone.

S: Happy New Year, guys.

B: Hear, hear.

J: You too.

S: It's 2023.

C: Shut up. (Evan laughs)

S: Right? It's weird.

C: It's so weird. We're in the future.

S: It's the future. I know. It's like we were in the, any time before 2000, any year after 2000 was, you get that barrier bias. It seemed like the far future. The idea that it's 2023 is just mind blowing.

B: Yeah. But that also applies, of course, to decades. I remember, I happen to remember, maybe you, Steve, as well. I remember thinking, I remember watching a movie and this was late 70s, around the time Star Wars came out and I remember seeing a movie that was set in the future and it was set in 1982 and I remember thinking, ooh, 1982. It's futuristic.

J: From the 70s, Bob?

B: It was only five or six years, huh?

J: You mean you were looking like-

S: Like five years later. But we were young too and so time-

E: That's the point. Yeah. Your age.

S: A lot. I think the 80s, if they took place in like after 2000, that was the far future. A lot of them did take place in the teens. There's a lot of sci-fi movies in the 2000 teens.

B: Back to the Future, I think.

S: Back to the Future and Blade Runner.

B: Yeah, Blade Runner. (laughs)

S: Blade Runner. (Evan laughs) A lot of movies did and that seemed like forever in the future. That's why I was like, anything that happened, yeah, that's-

B: Yeah. I could totally buy that.

S: Flying car, sure. Yeah, whatever.

E: Even 2010: The Year We Make Contact which was what, mid 80s, late 80s?

S: Yeah.

E: So that was-

S: Early 90s, I think. So I remember watching 2010 and it's so easy to date movies between 1980s and today because of the technology. It changed so quickly.

J: And there was a profound feel in the 80s. You could see, you could smell a 1980s movie.

C: Yeah, but now if you watch a movie from the year 2000, it looks old as shit. It's weird.

E: In some ways because there's no iPhones.

S: You could see what phones people are using, what computers they have and you know within a few years what year it is just based upon the technology that's-

E: Oh gosh, it's always the computer screen. If they're sitting down clacking at a keyboard and a green screen is there.

S: Or a CRT behind the flat screen.

C: Not even just that. I mean, clearly, yes, you can totally pick decades based on the technology in the films. But it's so interesting to me how movies that I guess because I'm old now don't feel they were that long ago when you watch them. I think it's just, style shifts so subtly-

S: Yeah.

C: -that you're like, this seems so old. You watch something that doesn't, it's like from when I was in college or something and I'm like, ooh, yikes, look at how they're dressed. Look at those haircuts. So many things just make it feel-

J: Well, I mean, Cara, it's everything.

C: Yeah, it's everything.

J: It's the pacing. It's the-

C: It's the film quality.

J: The lighting, the audio quality. Everything has progressed and evolved.

C: It's weird. It's so weird.

S: But my point about 2010 was at one point the main character is using a laptop and it was supposed to be from 2010. This is in the early 1990s. And for the movie, they used a laptop that came out a year later. You know what I mean? It was just slightly advanced to what we had. It was like we just took, yeah, that guy's using an advanced laptop in 2010. Of course, within five years, it's like, oh my god, that thing is so janky.

B: But I think about that. But also you got to remember that when people are making a movie, they're not thinking of their legacy. They're thinking, please let this be successful over the next year to two years. And then I'm good.

S: The good directors do.

B: Everything else is gravy.

E: Yeah.

B: Yeah. I know.

S: Stanley Kubrick?

J: Steve, if only there were a book out there that told people about futurism.

S: I know. I know. There really needs to be one. Some kind of a Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe or something. Absolutely.

B: Oh, good name.

E: Hey, guys. I'm sorry. I just got a call on my beeper. I think I have to answer this.

S: Remember War Games? Remember the movie WarGames?

B: Yep.

E: Sure.

S: When the guy gets a tricked out laptop. I think I'm thinking of the right movie. And it was like a 1200 baud mode. The dial-up mode. It was like, ooh, 1200 baud. Oh, my goodness.

B: I remember the big ass was a 500 baud Floppy.

C: I don't even know what that means. What is 1200 baud? What is the word you're using?

S: It's just the data rate. So at the time when that was the cutting edge, it seemed really fast. But that is painfully slow by today's standards.

C: Gotcha.

E: Dial-up modems, Cara? You must remember those.

C: I remember dial-ups. I just don't remember that word baud.

E: Yeah. 14-4 baud.

C: Yeah.

B: Imagine downloading a picture just one picture, not a movie, just one picture. I won't say what the picture is of. (laughter)

C: Bob I remember this.

E: Eight minutes.

C: I remember this. Bob, I'm not that young.

E: Eight minutes.

B: Really?

C: Yeah, Bob.

S: The one line at a time.

C: That was high school for me.

S: Yeah, okay.

B: What year?

C: This was AOL. I was born in 83.

E: Yeah, so she was 15.

C: Yeah, I was born in 83. I graduated in 2001. So like when I was in high school, this was AOL?

S: Yeah.

C:' It was dial-up.

S: Yeah.

C: Nobody had DSL yet.

S: DSL, yeah.

B: I remember when 14-4 baud, that was it. That was like, yeah, 14-4, man.

E: CompuServe, CompuServe, baby.

J: Cara, it's easy to understand. Baud means that it's how many bits per second.

B: Yeah, it's bit rate.

C: Oh, okay.

J: It's just bit rate.

S: Yeah.

C: Gotcha.

J: Because back in the day, we were literally talking about we had 9,600 baud and the number kept going up.

B: Yeah, I remember 28.

C: But what does it, is that a short word for something longer? I know BPS. Bits per second. What's baud? Is it B-O-D?

J: B-A-U-D.

C: B-A-U-D. What is that actually from?

E: It's like bodacious.

S: Well, it's the number of times a signal changes state per second. That's what it means.

J: It was basically from, it was like serial port technology. I mean, we were talking about home technology.

C: Wow.

E: Landline, phone line. That was it.

J: Yeah, over the phone.

C: Yeah. I mean, that's what we had. That's what we already had in their house.

E: Yep.

C: That's why they built it on that.

J: Evan and I were just talking about waiting for everyone to log in and we're chit-chatting about politics and life and stress and all this stuff. No, we just simply had to remind each other, you got to be happy. We actually have damn good lives. Just even in this context, you think about, we were happy with those baud rates back in the day, but my god, look at what we have today.

C: It's funny. I live in an apartment that was built in 2019 here in Florida, so it's brand new. There are no phone jacks in the walls.

B: Oh my god, that's awesome.

E: You'd have to have one specially installed.

C: Yeah, they just aren't here. And the plugs in the kitchen and the plugs next to the beds, and it's like this at my house back in LA, all have USB port. It's like two plugs with two USB plugs in the middle.

E: Sure.

C: And that's just normal.

E: Makes total sense.

J: USB A, B, or C though.

C: Yeah, it's all the, what was it?

S: C?

C: And it's not, they're not C.

S: No.

C: They're the older ones.

S: I finally have every one of my devices on C. So I need only one connector.

C: You don't have an iPhone?

E: That took a long time, huh?

S: No, I don't. I have Google [inaudible].

C: Weird.

S: By the way, the baud unit is named after Émile Baudot. The inventor of the Baudot code.

C: It's a person.

S: It's not an acronym or anything.

B: Telegraphy.

S: Yeah, for telegraphy, yeah.

B: Telegraphy.

E: Neat.

S: But Jay, I agree with you. I think we acclimate to whatever our situation is, so the best time to live in, whenever that is, is one where things are rapidly improving. Because by the time you get sick of whatever the current state is, it's improving. It's better. It's always better.

J: Yeah.

B: It's going to be real boring when we really-

S: Plateau?

B: -the limits of physics. And we're like, oh man, we've got to break the laws of physics to improve this. (laughter)

E: Bob, that's some special layer of hell for Bob.

B: No, man, having technology at the limit of physics will keep me happy for-

S: You think so.

B: Century.

E: If you, yeah, but you'd have to live to get there. That's the key.

Psychic Predictions for 2022 (8:33)[edit]

  • The rogues review predictions for 2022 and make their own predictions for 2023.

S: All right. So this is the first episode we're recording in the 2023 calendar year, and you guys know what that means.

E: Da, da, da, daaa!

S: This is our psychic predictions episode.

E: Yeah. And that was the psychic prediction fanfare, by the way.

S: Yes. So we're going to start, as we always do, by making fun of psychics who put out their predictions for 2022 to see how they did. Now we're not going to do any kind of thorough statistical analysis or anything. We're just going to review some of the common ones that are out there. Basically I just do some search term and take the top ones. So I'm not picking the ones that did poorly. I'm literally just picking them sequentially, but they all do horribly. (Evan laughs)So my only criterion is that they made specific predictions. Right?

E: Right. That's what I found someone who did that as well. You're going first, Steve?

S: Whatever. You want to go first, Evan?

Nicholas Aujula (9:23)[edit]

E: Sure. I'll throw out some. That I found from this psychic, his name is Nicholas Aujula, A-U-J-U-L-A, a past life regression and soul therapist who made a bunch of predictions at the end of 2021, about the year 2022, including the following. "There would be a mass recall of chicken soup." Now that's pretty specific.

S: Yeah.

E: That's a pretty specific sort of psychic prediction. Now I did look it up. Now, if you consider Tim Horton's chicken noodle soup worthy of some sort of mass recall, then yes, they did have to recall their chicken noodle soup because it had some insect products. I guess it was beyond the tolerable or the allowed amounts by law. So they were sort of forced to recall that. That's about as big as one I could. I don't know if I would call that a mass recall of chicken soup. Tim Horton's chicken soup. Who even knew? I thought they made donuts or something, right?

C: No, Tim Horton's, yeah, it's a restaurant.

S: Who?

E: Oh, it is a restaurant.

C: It's a huge restaurant in Canada. So like fast food.

E: Canada?

C: Yeah, yeah, it's huge. If there's a Tim Horton's recall, there's a huge recall.

E: Okay. Then maybe that one's correct. Well, let's move on.

S: Hold on. Hold on Evan.

B: Horton who?

S: Yeah, Horton. The question is, how often does a recall of any kind of chicken soup happen?

C: Exactly.

E: Almost every year.

S: Almost every year.

C: By the way, there are 5,352 Tim Hortons.

E: That's a lot.

C: It's a big chain.

J: Oh, that's how many locations they have.

C: Yeah, that's how many locations there are around the world. (Bob laughs)

E: But you're right, Steve. That is the point. And frankly, with a lot of these predictions, that's what they do. They come up with just things that statistically are going to happen.

S: It's like saying there's going to be a nuclear event in France. Yeah, there's like 30 a year.

E: Right. Right. But Nicholas also predicted this. Great news for the royal family in 2022. The queen will have a far happier year than her last.

C: Oops.

E: Maybe you want that one back.

S: That prediction did not age well.

B: That's a good one. Missing a death. You know, it's-

E: Yeah. No, not even a hint that the queen was going to have health problems or die or anything. Not even that. Just far happier year than her last year.

J: That's terrible.

E: Yeah. So that one, that's terrible.

B: It is happier. She's in heaven.

S: And you missed-

E: I suppose.

S: Yeah, maybe they'll say that. And they missed a high probability prediction of predicting that somebody that is super old is going to die.

C: Right.

E: Exactly right. And then probably because if you're going to stand out among the psychic world of the hundreds or thousands of online psychics who do this stuff, I suppose you would single out if your queen had a great year and didn't die. In a way, that was more of a risk. But of course, the queen's gone. Let's see. Famous faces. There will be a sad event for Hollywood legend Will Smith where he will face heartache. It would have been Chris Rock who faced faceache after Will Smith went up on stage and smacked him. But no, Will Smith, I don't think, faced heartache. So eh. Oh, gooseberries. You know gooseberries? Gooseberry pie. Gooseberries will become a new superfood that everyone will start eating. No, it didn't.

S: He probably bought stock in gooseberries.

E: Yeah, but you know.

S: But yeah I know.

E: Along with crypto, it kind of, yeah, didn't really go anywhere. Renewed space race between China and Russia. Between them. Okay? Oh, and here's the news. China has its plans for the moon. Russia has signed on. Roscosmos and its Chinese counterpart, the China National Space Administration, signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation relating to the establishment of the International Lunar Research Station. So not exactly I don't know that you can call that a space race between China and Russia when they're signing memorandums of understanding and planned cooperation. So I'll say no to that one. Poland was going to leave the EU. No, that did not happen. Some kind of miracle will be discovered in Jerusalem claimed by the Christian world. Eh, eh. Couldn't find anything about that one. Boris Johnson will land on his feet despite facing a strong backlash. No, when it came his chance to recapture the prime minister position, he failed in that. Oh, but here's one. Here's his last one. No chance of the world ending. (Cara laughs) That was a big one.

J: Oh my god.

E: But here's why. Here's why. He said: "I see an asteroid heading for Earth in 2022, but it's diverted and catastrophe is averted because the military will fire a missile to change its trajectory and Earth will survive." No, that did not happen either. So sorry, Nicholas, except for your, maybe your chicken soup, which is a low low hanging fruit. You kind of blew it. That's it.

Michelle Welsh (14:14)[edit]

S: My first hit was for Michelle Welsh. She has a number of different predictions for 2022 under different categories. She has one category for numerology, which is just gobbledygook. I mean, it's just amazing. You have to add the numbers of the year together. So 2021 is a five year because two plus two plus one is five. So now we're moving on to a six year because two plus two plus two is six for 2022. So that was last year. The next year, this coming year will be a seven. So it says a six is usually more we oriented than me oriented. But then she says, we should see people coming together, looking for solutions and working together to navigate the new normal. So she's internally, not even internally consistent.

E: Yeah, and it's beyond vague.

S: So she does tend toward the more vague "2022 will emphasize harmony", just non predictions, just making vague statements. But where she does say something specific, she she pretty much universally fails. So she says there will be a new way of looking at money in the US crypto/NFT. No crypto completely tanked this year, the opposite. So one of the types, we like to identify the common types of predictions. Evan you hit on a couple of the things that happen almost every year. You say it vague enough, so it's almost guaranteed to come true. One is whatever's happening is going to continue to happen. That's the prediction. They identify something that's basically already happening and just say, yeah, that's going to continue to happen. But then they always get burned when there's a reversal in the trend that they didn't predict like crypto crashing, you know?

E: That's right.

S: Yep. Certain currency in change, particularly pennies, will continue to be unavailable as cash.

C: What? Okay. (laughs)

S: All right. In terms of COVID, she sees more restrictions coming. That's she's UK based. So I'm assuming she means in the UK. Not really. China? Yes. But not UK. It will eventually run its course. But have we learned from it? She posits. So it didn't run its course in 2022. We're actually having another wave this winter. In politics, "there will be a pivotal moment in US history as previous interpretations of the Constitution will be overturned to be loosely interpreted, involving freedom of speech primarily." Not very literate in her writing. But no, the First Amendment has not been overturned in the United States. And then everyone gets the 2022 elections wrong, right? Because again, most psychics were predicting the high probability thing, you know what I mean, that they thought was going to happen. So she predicted more disruption regarding 2022 voting and elections. No, we actually, the elections came off pretty much without a hitch. There's a couple little hiccups, but nothing that nothing significant. In fact, the election deniers tanked because they didn't really have anything to say. Here's one. This is just I think this shows it just doesn't understand American politics. "Republican" singular for some reason, "will hold the Senate". So first of all-

E: They didn't have the Senate.

S: -so you can't hold it. They could take the Senate, which they didn't do. Then she says: "Momentum is their friend." Wrong. Just again, saying whatever is currently happening is going to continue to happen at the moment. So "unless things shift, they may take the House also." Yeah, well, you got that like pretty much reversed.

E: Wow. Yeah, she must have gotten totally confused.

S: We may see some extreme shakeups in US government leadership unrelated to the election. Nope, nothing has happened in 2022. Some totally vague stuff, blah, blah, blah. More armchair quarterbacks. Okay. Whatever that means. Worldwide "Japan's going to lie low in 2022." "China is growing and will continue to grow in world power dominance." Actually had a bad year. China's economy and lots of things have been turning down in 2022. I wouldn't say this is a year where they were continuing to grow in world dominance. And here's one. So keep in mind, these are predictions that she made in January of 2022. "Russia will invade someone" and then in parentheses "Ukraine." Yeah, they were already massing on the border of Ukraine.

E: Well, right. Yeah.

S: Everyone knew. The United States was saying they're going to invade Ukraine. At the time she made that prediction.

J: Yeah, but Steve, she's psychic.

S: The US is having a Pluto return and democracy is being challenged.

E: Plutocracy?

S: So this is like in her astrology part. So she goes from numerology to astrology. She's just making shit up. I don't know. (Evan laughs) So I mean, just, yeah, just.

E: What a bunch of crap.

S: It's all just either vague nonsense or whenever she gets even slightly specific, she doesn't quite. I love it when they don't quite understand the topic they're predicting in and they make basic mistakes. You know what I mean?

B: I think at the very least you do your homework.

S: Right. I looked at a few more. They're all equally bad. I did find somebody else who predicted a great year for the queen. I was looking specifically to see if anybody made any queen predictions. She had a really great year.

Baba Vanga (19:36)[edit]

S: All right. Enough here. Who's next?

B: I almost picked her.

S: Oh, okay.

B: I almost picked her, but I found her a little boring.

S: Yeah.

B: And I found somebody better.

S: Go ahead.

B: So I was coming at this one from a different angle. So I'm covering legendary, apparently, blind psychic Vangeliya Pandeva Gushterova, also known as Baba Vanga. And she's different.

E: Oh, I've heard.

B: I haven't. I hadn't heard of her. She's different though in terms of psychics that we typically choose because she died in 1996. So yeah.

C: So she's like a Nostradamus kind of a thing.

B: So yeah. So she made some predictions specifically for 2022. She said that – I'll lead with one where she kind of got kind of right. She predicted intense bouts of floods for several Asian countries in Australia and that's kind of true. Australia had intense weather systems and they had record rains and flooding. Some parts of South Asia had some as well, but they're kind of common. It's not like – especially with La Nina. I got to remember though. She's predicting from 96, but still predicting floods in those areas, not a biggie, not a biggie. Her other predictions were somewhat bolder I would say. Let's see. A new deadly virus from Siberia. And – oh, this is one of my favorites. An alien invasion in 2022. Didn't happen. A locust invasion.

C: I keep seeing that. I see a lot of bug invasions.

B: Really?

C: Yeah.

B: And then the last one for 2022, a rise in the use of virtual reality and I wouldn't necessarily say that for 2022.

S: I mean it did rise. It's been rising for a decade.

E: Well, yeah, when you compare it to 1996. Sure.

B: So but while I'm here, I might as well throw out some of her other predictions for other years. 2023, this is a good one. Earth's orbit would change. OK. Can I have some more details on that? Earth's orbit would change. That's a little scary. Oh, this one is good. 2028, astronauts will be traveling to Venus. That's probably the last place that astronauts are going to travel.

S: Not going to happen.

E: Not only is it basically impossible for that to happen, but why would it even happen?

E: That's a bold guess.

B: Venus?

E: I'll give you points for boldness with that one.

B: You could melt lead on the surface. We're going to go to Venus? Maybe if there's cloud cities.

E: Just two years ago, we were talking about could there possibly be a life form on Venus?

B: Yeah, like floating bacteria.

S: But here's the thing, even if we made an amazing discovery on Venus and we wanted to send ships into orbit to do some recon, whatever, some science, it couldn't happen by 2028. Even if we started the program now, it wouldn't happen.

B: No. Yeah, they would come back and probably be riddled with radiation. All right. So here's a couple more. 2046, people would live for more than 100 years due to organ transplant technology. (Jay laughs) Now-

S: That could be true.

B: -I think it's reasonable that people, the average age could get much closer to 100 by 2046. I could buy that as a prediction. But due to organ transplant technology, I think when that happens, I think it's probably going to be a lot of reasons why it's happening, not just because of organ transplant technology.

C: Yeah, I love how everybody always thinks it's like one thing changes.

J: I know.

C: And it's like, it's just as much that we're going to have an extended lifespan because of advances in healthcare as it is because of social justice initiatives. People are going to be more secure financially.

S: There's going to be a hundred reasons.

E: Nuance is not the stock in trade.

C: No. (laughs)

B: And then, let's see, 2100.

E: Okay, here we go.

B: Get this.

E: I hope it's in your book.

B: The night would disappear. The night would disappear.

E: Wait, wait, wait. Does she mean KNIGHT?

B: NIGHT. But I think her angle was artificial sunlight would illuminate another part of the earth.

J: What?

E: What?

B: Okay. I mean, I could see you have, you could have mirrors in space that can throw sunlight.

S: Why would we do that? That would be horrible.

B: But why would you do it? And in isolated areas, perhaps for some weird reasons, but the dark, the entire earth or the half of the earth that's at night, silly, really silly. And then the final prediction, 5079, she took a big leap there. The world would end in 5079. Now, obviously most of her predictions for 2022 were silly and didn't happen. And the other predictions we'll just have to see about, right? But I'll be here in the years to come to see if those other predictions were accurate. But if I'm not here in 5079, then she may very well have been right that the world ended. If I'm not there. It should end.After I'm gone, what's the point?

J: That's so ridiculous.

E: The Bobiverse ends.

J: No more nighttime? I mean, Jesus. (laughter)

B: Get rid of it. It's annoying.

J: You are so science illiterate.

E: How screwed up would that be?

J: It's painful. It's like you didn't even, there is no science at all bouncing in that person's mind.

B: You can't get a good suntan at night, man. Just, you know.

Jay's predictions from others (24:40)[edit]

J: All right. So I, last year I made some non-psychic predictions that were more like political predictions and things like that. But I decided to take a different angle again this year. So one thing I wanted to quickly talk about was that it was predicted by an incredibly large number of people that in the United States that the Republican Party was going to have what they call the red wave. And a huge number of, this is about a huge number of government positions that will go from a Democrat person to a Republican person. And it didn't, not only did it not happen, but my God, the Republicans got absolutely crushed. So we're talking about professionals who are educated and do understand the US political system. And a lot of people made predictions that this was going to happen and it didn't happen. And it just goes to show you that even in areas where you know what you're talking about, you can't make predictions.

S: Especially when you're trying to predict human behavior because there was so many psychological factors and everybody was estimating how much will people be voting based upon climate change versus on abortion versus on immigration versus will people care about the threat to democracy of election deniers. And if you got that wrong even by a couple percentage points, then you could have made a completely wrong prediction.

J: So then I also was looking up people who made predictions about the future because of the book that our Skeptics Guide to the Future, I was interested in seeing some predictions that people made about a hundred years in the future.

S: Yeah. Those are more interesting than predictions about the past.

J: A hundred years ago, an English author named W.L. George made a bunch of predictions about the future and some of them were very accurate, which I'll tell you. And then there was a couple that were really weird. So he predicted that in 2022 commercial flying would be commonplace and that coal would not be exhausted. These are legitimate predictions based on I don't know what, I don't know why he was thinking along those lines, but that was correct. He said that women would occupy a large number of seats in Congress. Again, that's correct. That was really great. He was talking about that there would be equality between men and women at that time in the future. And then he also predicted that trains would be traveling on glass plates and that anti-gravity screens would prevent planes from crashing to the ground.

E: Anti-gravity screens? Like mesh screens?

J: I was thinking more like force fields.

S: Yeah.

J: Like a force field. It's fun to look at these because the social ones, the ones that weren't crazy were like the commercial flying it wasn't really moving into science fiction. It was more of an extrapolation of what was going on at the time. Okay flying machines exist. So one day there'll be commercial flying. And thinking about equality between men and women, again any kind of forward thinking person, I think, could legitimately predict something like that happening when you were living in a time where there really wasn't equality.

S: Yeah, but what exactly did he say? Because I think most people would argue that we have a much greater equality than we did 100 years ago, but we're not anywhere near parity either.

J: No, I agree, Steve. Yeah.

S: And so hitting that nail on the head would have been more impressive than just saying, yeah, there'll be more equality between men and women in the future.

J: Very black and white, what he said here. So there was no nuance in there. But then you move into like going completely off the rails with this train prediction and glass plates that they'd be traveling on glass plates. I just wonder what that person was visualizing in their head. Why would they think of glass? It's pretty cool.

S: I would train to be traveling on glass?

E: What year was this that he made this?

J: It was 100 years ago, 1922. So anyway, so that was it. I thought the futurism angle was interesting. And Cara didn't you do something similar?

Cara's Craig Hamilton-Parker and others (28:39)[edit]

C: Yeah. So I did find a psychic who last year made predictions about this year. I didn't want to go through all of them because I actually found them quite boring. It's the same story that we always talk about every year. Some are too vague, so they don't make any sense. Some are overly specific and kind of ridiculous. But I think the one that I liked the most, this guy is a guy named Craig. I can't.

J: Craig.

C: Yeah. I don't know what his first name was. Oh, Craig Hamilton-Parker. But this is my favorite one. And he's not American, by the way. He's I think British. Yeah, he's British. And he predicted that of Joe Biden. He said: "I don't think he's going to make it either far past 2022 or even through 2022. I sense he's not going to complete his full term of presidency and feel he will be removed from power. It will be claimed to be health issues." Nope. Didn't happen.

S: I mean, the window is still open for that one, but he's trying-

C: For the first half of it. Yeah, he's trying to hedge his bets, but definitely not through 2022. He also has like a lot of specific stuff about Russia and Russia, interfering with America. I guess he just like did not see Ukraine happening. He did not see Ukraine happening or Ukraine taking all of Russia's energy, because there's a ton of predictions about Russia, messing with our power grid and doing all these attacks on us and doing a bunch of weird stuff with nuclear weapons towards America. So, yeah, kind of boring. But what I thought was fascinating, and this it's sort of in keeping with what we do on the show, I know that what we generally do is look at these predictions that were done. And what I love about the Internet is that you can see what it's an archived article, somebody published it in 2021 about 2022. They didn't go back and update it. But like you, Jay, I found that there is. OK, this is fascinating. There's a dude on Twitter and he's actually he's a researcher at the University of Calgary. And what he does is he goes back through old newspaper clippings and he found all of these forecasts and posted them in a Twitter thread. His name's Paul Ferry. And they're amazing. So these specifically are actually and I know I'm shifting gears here a little bit, Steve, but these are actually about 2023, but they were all made in 1923.

S: In 1923? OK.

C: And these are by various experts. So different economists, scientists, sociologists. Like we were saying, these are actual people that are educated people trying to make predictions about 100 years into the future. And some of them are fine and some of them are hilarious. He broke them into sort of three buckets, advancements in health and beauty, living longer and working smarter, and then gizmos, gadgets and other innovations. The advancements in health and beauty are all very eugenical. It's a lot of people said that the world was just going to be full of healthier and more beautiful people. So for example, one of the headlines predicted was fewer doctors and present diseases unknown. All people beautiful.

J: All people will be beautiful.

E: You look marvelous.

C: Right. And then we've got somebody who predicted the eradication of cancer, tuberculosis. OK, not eradicated, but doing better on that. Infantile paralysis, aka polio, did pretty OK with that. Locomotor ataxia and also leprosy. Now none of these things have been fully eradicated, but we're doing better on most of them.

E: Yeah, sure.

C: Headline: "Beauty contests will be unnecessary as there will be so many beautiful people that it will be almost impossible to select winners."

E: Oh my gosh. Wow. Somebody's hung up on that.

C: And then a lot of apparently at the time there was a lot of fear about gender norms and gender bending and traditional masculinity. So we see themes of like for some reason there's an obsession with like curly hair being a trend for men in 2023 and women shaving their heads. So kind of turning gender on its ears.

E: Interesting.

C: Also I love this. The average lifespan could reach 100 years, but some people might make it to 150 or even 200. Actually the average expected lifespan right now, it's actually decreasing because of COVID, but it's about 76.4 years. Oh, I love this. They predicted that people will spend less time at work. So there were some predictions of things like a four, what was it, a four hour work week. Oh, I want that one to come.

J: Four hour work week? Wow.

C: No, four hour, sorry, four hour work days. So our days would be half. We'd be spending half as much time at work.

S: Yeah, four hour work days. We are spending more time at work.

C: Yeah, exactly. It's like, why? The US population would be about 300 million. That was one of the predictions.

S: That's pretty good.

C: Yeah, pretty good.

E: That's a decent shot.

C: And Canada would be 100 million, which they didn't get close. They're only 38 million. And then how about some technology stuff? Okay.

B: Yeah, what do we got?

C: People will be wearing kidney cozies.

E: What's it?

J: What the hell? What is that?

E: Wait, is that like a tea cozy?

C: Yeah, that's like, I compared them in the article to teapot cozies for our internal organs.

S: Oh, I see, like they are actually in your body.

J: But why would you need-

C: Because your kidneys are a little exposed.

S: To protect them?

C: Yeah, they're more exposed than some of your other organs. But still, it's like ridiculous.

J: That's nuts.

C: Gasoline as a motive power will have been replaced by radio. And the skies will be filled with myriad craft sailing over well-defined routes.

S: Flying vehicle, yeah.

C: A polar airline is going to make it possible to fly from Chicago to Hamburg via the North Pole.

S: That's happening.

C: There's also, okay, wireless communications. A lot of people were already talking about that in the 20s. Paperless communications. A thousand mile an hour freighters are going to deliver goods before sunset. Watch size radio telephones will keep everybody in communication with the ends of the earth. Pretty good there.

S: That's pretty good.

E: Some of these predictions are, you know.

S: A bit Dick Tracy, but yeah.

C: Yeah, yeah. Let's see. Archibald Lowe, who's a British scientist and author, he invented an early version of television and also an early version of a drone, wrote: "The war of 2023 will naturally be a wireless war, thanks to wireless telephony, sight, heat, power, and writing."

S: That's pretty accurate.

C: Pretty good, yeah.

S: I read an article recently about the Ukraine-Russia war right now. It's all about the drones.

C: Right.

J: Right.

E: Yeah.

S: That's the new battlefield. Yeah, it really is.

C: Very different than it used to be. But this guy who predicted these wireless wars went a little farther and said, or I should say further, and said, he concluded that it is quite possible that when civilization has advanced another century, mental telepathy will exist in embryo and will form a very useful method of communication.

S: Yeah, no.

C: That does not follow.

B: Not unless we've got like a brain interface that could...

C: Right. I think that's probably what he's referring to. But yeah, so pretty interesting thinking about... The guy, the researcher who loves just like combing through, he's an archivist and he loves combing through this old stuff. Basically his big takeaway in the NPR article that I read was, yeah, nobody is good at predicting 100 years of the future.

B: Oh, God, no.

E: No, gosh.

C: Can't do it. Especially when this massive industrial and computer revolution took place. I mean like...

S: Too many disruptive changes.

C: Yeah, 100 years ago to now, it's just bananas. And then it's pretty, it's kind of telling how many disruptive changes made things so obvious and then how certain things like, oh, of course we'll beat cancer by then. It's like, nope.

S: Nope.

C: Nope.

S: Because some problems are nonlinear too. Yeah, and if you are interested in that sort of thing, we wrote a whole book about it. (laughter) All right.

Rogues' results for 2022[edit]


Steve's Results (37:10)[edit]

S: So let's get to our own psychic predictions.

E: Yeah.

C: Yeas. Yes, yes, yes.

S: I'll go first. I made three predictions. Only one was serious. The other two were not serious, but here they are. Prediction number one, a new social media fad will sweep the world, largely ignored by anyone who matters. (laughter) Pretty sure that happened. Here's my real one. Astronomers will detect a third extrasolar object in the vicinity of our solar system, spawning another round of speculation about alien origins.

E: And?

S: That did not happen.

E: Oh.

S: I really wish it did, but nope. And my third one.

B: Yeah, we would have talked about that. This one definitely came true. A book about predicting the future will be published this fall, taking the world by storm. That definitely came true.

C: Ridiculous.

E: I like it.

Jay's Results (38:04)[edit]

S: All right, who wants to go next with their 2022 predictions?

J: I'll go.

S: All right go ahead.

E: Go for it.

J: I'll start with-

E: How many did you make? Did you make three?

J: I made four. I made four predictions. And let me start with the one I did the worst on. I said either Bitcoin or Ethereum will significantly increase in value. (collective growns)

E: Oh, now we know who to blame.

J: Don't ever invest with what I say. Let me put it to you that way. I said CRISPR will cure a horrible disease, and that basically came true. CRISPR assisted doctors in solving lots of disease problems. That one was basically like shooting an arrow in the dark at a giant target because there was no way that that wasn't going to happen with CRISPR.

E: High probability.

J: AI will help create a new drug that is useful. That happened in a big way. There's 23 drugs that were inspired by artificial intelligence in 2022 and are now in clinical trials or approved by the FDA. So it's happening in a big way. And just expect an incredible tsunami of things that AI is going to be doing over the next decade. But every year it's just going to get more and more as companies invest more money into it. The one that I nailed that, if you listened to last year's show, Bob and Cara in particular were horrified when I said this.

C: Oh no. (laughs)

J: But it's, god damn it, it came true. The Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.

C: Oh, yeah. Oh, you said that.

J: And it happened.

C: You made it happen. I blame you.

J: But, wow, I mean, you know-

E: That and the crypto.

J: I don't even know where my mind was at last year when I-

S: Yeah, they kind of averaged each other out.

C: Well, we knew that it was a risk.

J: Yeah.

C: We really did.

J: I don't know why I picked it, though. But I mean, it's really weird that it happened. But either way, you know-

C: It was actively worked towards for decades.

E: Yeah, 50 years.

S: The bottom line is that's a prediction you could make in non-psychic ways, right? I mean, you could do-

C: Right. It's a smart prediction.

S: It's a smart political prediction. Yeah.

J: Yeah. I mean, when I come up with predictions, I am actually trying to think of things that are legitimate, unless I'm literally saying a joke. It's either a joke or I'm legitimately thinking of things that I think might happen.

S: All right.

Bob's Results (40:24)[edit]

S: Bob, what were your predictions?

B: Let's see. Last year, a new hominid skull would be discovered.

J: Hominid.

S: Yeah, there were several.

B: Well, I couldn't really find any full-on new skulls.

E: Neither could they. (Cara laughs)

S: Yeah. Ancient skull uncovered in China could be a million-year-old Homo erectus, November 29th, 2022.

B: All right. I'm good then. I got that one. One example I found was, I hadn't heard of this either, Steve, Sahelanthropus.

S: Yeah.

B: But they didn't find a skull. They actually just kind of like looked at some of the bones, the fossil bones, the ulna and femur that were nearby.

J: Look at the bones.

B: And they looked at them again and said, yeah, this probably belongs to Sahelanthropus. All right. So, okay. Avatar 2, directed by James Cameron, will stink. I saw the movie and I was wrong. It did not stink.

C: Oh, it didn't?

B: It had issues. It had issues. But from a technological visual standpoint, oh my god, it was gorgeous. But sure, the story should have been better. He should have teamed up with Pixar because if that story couldn't make me cry, then you kind of failed on some level. But still, it's worth seeing, I think.

S: Yeah. I mean, it had serious issues. It had pacing issues. It had storyline issues. It really wasn't a well-crafted story. It was really visually stunning and if you enjoy that, then that might hold you off.

C: Didn't it also piss off like a lot of indigenous people?

S: Yeah. I mean, it was like every trope. You know, every native trope.

C: Why do they do that? They're better. It's so stupid. It's not that hard. You just got to think and have some people consult, man.

S: You heard the joke about the first Avatar movie that it was dances with Smurfs.

C: Dances with Smurfs. Oh my gosh.

S: It's even more true.

J: It's like, this rubs up against the idea like you're going to piss someone off no matter what the hell you do now. Like, right? Somebody is going to claim that they're something.

C: Yeah, but this isn't just some random person out of the woodwork. It's entire cultures of people that they're really bothering. I think it's different. You're right, but I also like, yes, you can't please everybody. Somebody's always going to be mad at you for something. But try not to appropriate whole cultures. Don't actually consult with them at all about how to do it. It's just, it's effed up and vulnerable. Literally the most vulnerable.

J: It's a science fiction movie about creatures that don't exist. I mean, of course there's going to be human elements in it because we're human. And you know, there's things about humans that have to be there in order for us to attach ourselves to it.

C: But that's not the argument, Jay.

S: It was worse than that. It wasn't just that there were, oh, there are you can make analogous elements to real populations on earth. It was like they took the the white man trope and pitted them against the Native American trope, really simplistically. And it was annoying. It took away from the film. It was so cardboard. And I could totally see, like somebody from that culture being like, really? They just basically blue Native Americans, you know?

J: That seemingly is the story that James Cameron wanted to tell. What would he have had to have done? How much would he have had to have added to that story to make people happy about it? It's simplistic in a sense because it kind of needs to be or else it's not-

S: It doesn't really. It absolutely doesn't need to be.

J: Why? What would you have changed?

S: Because this person had 10 years to write a follow up.

C: Right. (laughs)

J: I'm not talking about the follow up. I'm talking about the first movie.

C: We were talking about the follow up.

S: I'm talking about the follow up. But the first movie it still was a problem with the first movie. Again, hence the dances with Smurfs. But I mean, for the second movie to be like, double down and even be worse on all of the tropes. And it would have been nice if the "villains" were not so cartoonish and had a little bit of interesting, like, oh, yeah, I could kind of see where they're coming from.

E: Could they have handlebar mustaches?

S: They might as well have. I mean, they had the whale hunter, like, just out for cash and the military guys just out to like, kill the natives. And it was just ridiculous.

C: And the thing is, how could he have done better? He could have gotten out of his own way and actually asked people what they thought. It's not that hard. It's just ask people.

E: Yeah, but he was in a rush character.

C: Exactly. It's like, if you already know, because the thing is, the first movie came under fire. So you already know that there's criticism, go to the people critiquing it and go, I messed up. I want to do better next time.

S: How can I do better?

C: Yeah, exactly. It's not that hard.

B: All right. So I'm going to take based on this discussion, my prediction that Avatar 2 will stink. I'll take that as a win then. (Cara laughs)

E: There you go. That's right. Yes. And thank you. That was going to be my funny comment.

B: I mean, I enjoyed it visually and technologically.

E: Jay just admit that it sucked and take the victory lap.

B: The story screw-ups. I agree that he should have-

S: It was cringy.

B: -helped with Pixar. So my last prediction from last year for 2022 was a gamma ray burst misses Earth by one light year. I'm going to take that as a win as well because nobody detected it, but that didn't mean it happened because how are you going to see it?

E: That's right.

B: If it misses us by a light year, you're not going to see it.

S: A hundred of them could have happened.

E: So prove Bob wrong. I defy you to prove Bob is wrong there. So prove that negative.

B: I kind of killed it.

C: I like it. I like it.

Cara's Results (46:07)[edit]

S: Who would like to go next?

C: I'll go next.

S: All right.

E: Go for it.

C: Okay. You guys have to help me because I really haven't had time to fact check myself.

E: Help me. Help me.

C: So help tell me if you think these came true or not. 2022 will not be a year we return to "normalcy". That is what life was like pre-pandemic. I think in some parts of the world, they totally just pretended like the pandemic's over. In other parts of the world, absolutely. We haven't returned. But I wrote, we will adjust to a new normal in which handshakes are no longer expected. That's kind of true. Vaccination proof is required. Nobody cares about that anymore. And wearing masks in public is a common practice as has been the case for decades in many Asian countries.

E: Spotty.

C: Yeah, it's spotty.

S: It's spotty. Yeah. Given how high probability it is, that's basically a failure because you didn't really know.

C: Right, exactly.

S: The zeitgeist.

C: Yeah, exactly. I mean, at least here in the US, people are like, let's just pretend it's over. But it might apply in other countries where I'm not seeing the day to day. Number two, somewhere in the world, a major city will be plagued by drought, an extreme storm and an outbreak of deadly disease all within the same month. That probably happened.

S: I mean, the US is having drought conditions.

C: There you go.

E: Yeah, although the storm.

C: But I said a major city. So let's say LA. Is LA plagued by drought, an extreme storm and an outbreak of deadly disease all within the same month?

S: No, they didn't have an outbreak.

E: I don't think so.

S: They did not have an outbreak.

C: Well, unless we still count COVID.

S: No, that's not an outbreak. It's an ongoing pandemic. I won't give you that. No.

C: Dang it. Oh, what about measles? Did we have any measles situations?

S: We're just getting measles out.

E: Yeah, the measles is coming back.

S: Yeah, it is. But I've read Midwest. I haven't heard anything about California.

E: That's usually Minnesota.

C: Well, maybe they had some drought and storms there too. I got to study this.

S: You got to do the research if you want to take credit.

E: Give us an update next week.

C: Okay. And then number three, income inequality in America will continue to widen and the world's richest 1% will accumulate more wealth than at any other time in the history of democracy, matching only numbers seen during historical aristocratic oligarchies.

E: Yeah, but you missed the chicken soup recall. (Cara laughs) You got to keep it to five or less words.

C: Dang it.

E: The nuance is not the frame.

S: Everyone's beautiful. That's my prediction.

C: Once we get to our 2023 predictions, I'm going to take your advice.

E: Please, please, someone do that. Someone do that. All right.

Evan's Results (48:33)[edit]

E: Do you want to hear my three?

S: Sure.

E: Here were my three predictions. Number one, 175 zettabytes or zettabytes of data, which was expected to occur. This is worldwide information, digital information. 175 zettabytes. It was expected by 2025, but I said it would actually occur by the end of 2022. Not quite.

S: No.

E: Somewhere between 94 and 97 are the best estimates I could find from multiple sources online. So not 175 zettabytes.

S: Halfway there.

E: Yeah, about halfway there. I know. We'll get there. I don't know, Bob. We're going to see a yottabyte in our lifetime, you think, maybe?

B: Well, we'll see a yottabyte of something. I mean they're already – that's why we kind of went above and beyond the yotta with the other two.

E: Yeah, I get it. They're future-proofing it. But I mean our lifetime, Bob, here.

B: But in terms of the internet, is it the internet – what, the capacity? I'm trying to remember how they quantified that number in terms of the internet. But I mean they've got orders of magnitude to go.

E: Amount of data generated is what they're saying.

B: OK, generated. Yeah, we'll see it, man. Don't worry. We'll see it.

E: OK. All right. So I'll take some – yeah, I was wrong. So prediction wrong. Prediction number two, $1 billion worth of crypto theft in 2022. Oh, wow. We went three times past that.

C: Wow.

E: It was about a $3 billion steal in 2022 overall. October of 2022, one month alone, $718 million stolen. And the top incident from that month, $620 million from Ronin Network alone. So yeah.

C: How much did your good friend Sam Bankman–?

E: And that doesn't even – no. And that doesn't even include the Sam Bankman Fried – Fried.

C: Fried – yeah, I was wondering how to say it.

E: Green fried tomatoes. Whatever. No, that doesn't even include anything having to do with him. So not even including that still was three times what I predicted. So I'll take that as a win. And the third one, kind of what Jay was talking about, I had also predicted an artificial intelligence designed drug would be clinically tested on humans. And yes, that did happen. In fact, in February it was reported the first wholly AI-developed drug entered phase one trials. And Silico Medicine announced they had started the world's first phase one clinical trial of a drug developed from scratch using AI. The disease this new drug is designed to tackle is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, IPF, which affects five million people a year. So here, yeah, AI and drugs, yes. And thank goodness as far as I'm concerned. So two out of three ain't bad.

S: Not bad.

C: No, not at all.

Rogues' Predictions for 2023 (51:35)[edit]


Steve's Predictions[edit]

S: So who wants to go first? Should we go in the same order? I'll go first.

E: Same order? Sure.

S: All right. I tried to make three serious predictions this year.

E: Me too.

S: Sometimes I do joke ones. But prediction number one, Biden will announce he is running for a second term while no fewer than 12 Republicans will launch their campaign for the nomination.

J: Wow.

S: It's kind of a straight up political prediction, but you know, it's a lot of psychics do that. Prediction number two, a new zoonotic virus will emerge, but will rise only to epidemic, not pandemic levels.

B: Interesting. I like it.

J: Cool.

S: And prediction number three, the biggest science news story of 2023 will involve another fusion breakthrough.

E: Oh.

J: That's fun.

E: Oh, Bob, it's that other one you were talking about, magnetic something or other, right?

B: Oh, the acoustic confinement.

E: Acoustic confinement.

B: I'm trying to think what would be the biggest news item of 2023 to warrant that accolade.

E: That's a good question.

B: What would have to happen in fusion?

S: Yeah, we'll see.

B: I mean, perhaps magnetic confinement has a big breakthrough or... Okay.

S: Yeah, it could be magnetic confinement reaching ignition. I think that would qualify. Maybe a new player emerges. We'll see.

B: Yeah.

S: All right.

Bob's Predictions[edit]

S: Go, Bob. Go, Bob.

B: All right. So my first prediction for 2023, a language model, GPT-4, will be released later than anticipated in 2023 and will cause an AI ruckus beyond what AI Art did in 2022, sparking legislation to control disruptive AI software.

E: You like Mr. Sparkles?

B: Three predictions in one there, but yeah, I think it has the potential, GPT-4 language model has the potential to be like, whoa, like just big release. At least on the level of what AI Art has done this year. Okay. Prediction number two, Elon Musk in 2023 will update the Tesla software so the owner can't drive away until they tweet something nice about him. (laughter)

E: A decent chance of being accurate.

B: Thank you, Liz, for that awesome idea.

C: Bravo, Liz.

E: Yeah, Liz.

B: Yes. And three, a Tunguska-scale airburst will happen this year, freaking everyone out.

E: Cool, Bob. Oh my gosh.

S: That's a good one, Bob. I like that.

E: That would be big.

B: If that's overpopulated areas, that could actually be bad, especially considering that some nations could consider it a nuke before they really knew what had happened. But man.

J: It's scary stuff Bob.

E: Some Dr. Strangelove stuff might happen in response. Oh boy.

Jay's Predictions[edit]

S: All right, Jay.

J: All right. US electric vehicle sales will double in 2023.

S: From 2022 levels?

J: Yes. Compared to 2022.

E: I totally agree with that prediction.

J: That's still, it's a lot.

E: Well, tax credits went into law, so it's going to definitely, I think it will definitely happen.

J: Here's a fun one. Lab-grown meat companies will begin selling their products in the United States.

E: They haven't already?

J: No, they haven't already. But after we did a news item recently about it, and I think that they're on the verge. So I think that's definitely going to happen in 2023.

E: I'll taste them.

J: Finally, SpaceX Starship will reach orbit.

S: Cool. Is that scheduled to happen?

E: Wow.

J: I mean, I don't think it's scheduled to happen on a specific date, but they've been working pretty heavily towards it. But it will be a big deal when it reaches orbit. At that point, I think it means we're ready to test it going to the moon.

E: Oh boy. Wow, that's a big step for them.

Cara's Predictions[edit]

C: Okay. I went pithy this go around. We'll see how they do.

E: All right.

C: Flu death rate will increase significantly worldwide. For all the reasons that make sense. At least one country will have a major revolution changing the trajectory of a world region.

S: Okay. Major revolution.

E: I kind of agree with that.

C: For three to four months in 2023, Cara will annoy the shit out of everyone on the show by demanding that you call her doctor.

J: I'll be so happy to call you doctor.

E: Oh my gosh.

S: When are you presenting? When are you defending, I should say?

C: Well, I have to defend by July 1st in order to get everything recorded and submitted and finish my internship. There's so many I's and T's to dot and cross. So it looks like July 1st has to be my defense day in order to graduate on August 31st.

S: Okay. Well, I hope that one comes true.

E: Oh my gosh.

C: Thank you.

E: It so will.

C: I said three to four months just in case it will be a few weeks late.

S: Yeah. Give yourself some wiggle room.

Evan's Predictions[edit]

S: All right, Evan.

E: Three predictions for 2023 from me. Number one, a cricket player in the Cricket World Series, which is going to happen in India apparently this year, or the Cricket World Cup, will take all 10 wickets. Now from what I'm told, I know nothing about cricket. However, I'm told that it's a rare phenomenon and it's the equivalent of like one baseball player making all the outs by himself in a baseball.

S: Like a no-hitter? Like pitching a no-hitter?

E: Even more rare than that.

S: Okay.

E: So it's considered a rare occurrence. I looked up to see.

S: All 10 wickets.

E: We're way overdue for someone to take all 10 wickets in cricket. So there you go.

S: Good.

E: That's for our cricket fans worldwide.

S: Our only sports prediction. Good.

C: I feel like if you said that on stage, I would think that was a Harry Potter reference. I would be like, wickets, come on guys. You know I've never seen it.

E: Wickets, making up words.

C: Exactly.

E: Number two, liquid death.

C: Oh, the water.

E: Yes, exactly. $400 million in sales. That will be three times the amount of sales in 2022. It will triple.

C: I can see that because it's like in a can.

E: It is. It's water in a can and I know whenever I go to concerts with Rachel and stuff, that's the water now that they sell you. And yay, aluminum boob plastic. So yes. Number three, one of the animals on the 25 most wanted lost species list will be rediscovered.

S: Rediscovered a lost animal species.

B: I like it.

C: It's a bold prediction.

E: My bet and to be even more specific for bonus points, Zugs' monitor. Last seen in 1980 in Indonesia. They're not even sure if it's really gone or not.

S: Yeah. Indonesia, that's a good bet.

E: Yeah, I think that's a decent bet.

C: Monitor, a lizard?

S: Yeah.

C: Cool cool.

S: Yeah. Not the ivory-billed woodpecker, unfortunately.

E: No.

S: Okay, good. I think those are good ones this year. Good job, everyone.

J: Thank you.

C: Thank you.

[commercial brake]

News Items[edit]

S: All right, that was fun, but let's move on with some news items.

Hydration Myths (59:44)[edit]

S: I believe I've talked on the show before about the myth that everyone needs to drink eight glasses of water a day to be optimally healthy. I think we've mentioned that. There's a little bit of news about that, but let me recap that really quickly. So this is a persistent myth. It's also one of those myths that's been debunked a million times online, but people still believe it. It's funny, whenever a patient says to me, oh, I'm trying to get healthy, I'm doing A, B, C, D, they give me a list, they rattle off a list of things that's all bullshit. It's all just either useless or I'm eating organic and blah, blah, blah. It's like, oh, god, you're wasting your time. And one of the things that they very commonly say is I'm drinking eight glasses of water a day. So the bottom line is it's based on no science. There's no evidence that there's anything special about eight glasses of water or the eight by eight rule, which is eight glasses of eight ounces or 64 ounces total. It's artificial and we've sort of criticized it before by saying that it's going to vary based upon all sorts of factors. Why would you think that there would be a one size fits all for the amount of water that you have to drink? Plus you get a lot of water through the food that you eat, so that depends on what kind of food you generally eat. And also drinks that are not pure water still are mostly water, even if you don't think that they are. You could hydrate with coffee. People think, oh, coffee dehydrates you. But it hydrates you because it's mostly water.

C: But it also works on, what is it, the aldosterone?

S: Well, caffeine has a slight diuretic effect.

C: It's a diuretic.

S: It's so minimal compared to the actual volume of water that you're taking, especially if you're dehydrated, where you need the hydration. Believe me, your body will use it.

C: Right, unlike alcohol.

S: Yeah, alcohol is different. Interestingly, there really wasn't a lot of information either way on water. It was just that the recommendations were sort of in a vacuum. And for most people, as I say when I wrote about it, and we've said before, evolution has perfected over hundreds of millions of years a method for knowing how much water you need to drink, and it's called thirst. You will be thirsty when you need to drink. So for most people, you just need to make sure that you have adequate access to fluids, that you don't ignore your thirst, and if you're going to be in a very dehydrating situation, excessive heat, dryness, or enough physical activity to make you sweat, yeah, you have to make sure you have access to a lot of fluid, because your fluid, your water needs will increase significantly, and you may want to get ahead of the game. If you're really going to have a lot of water, like you're running a marathon, you have to prehydrate, because by the time you feel guilty, you're losing water so fast, you're probably already dehydrated. But from just living your life day to day under normal environmental conditions, just make sure you have access to fluid, and just follow your thirst, that's fine. If you really want to monitor your hydration status, probably the best way is to look at your urine. If it's getting dark, that means either you have a problem, or you should see your doctor, or you're not drinking enough.

E: Or you ate too many beets.

S: That's a different color. All right, that's it. That's like it's a pretty simple algorithm for most people.

Recent water turnover study (1:03:21)[edit]

S: So in any case, there was a study published recently where they did something very interesting. They looked at thousands of subjects, and they measured their water turnover. They actually used radio-labeled hydrogen to see how quickly they're turning over the water in their body, and to see how much, basically how much water do these people need to consume from all sources, not drinking pure water, but just how much water are you getting into your body from all sources. And what they found is that it's hugely variable, as you might imagine, and it varied, these are the factors that they listed. Total water input and output varied according to many factors, including body size, physical activity, air temperature, humidity, and altitude. But they also found that it varied based upon your socioeconomic status. It varied based upon your athletic status, whether or not you were pregnant your age, your body composition, and a lot of environmental factors, including the ones I've already listed. So yeah, like there's, the variance was tremendous. There's no general rule about how much water people should drink. And Cara, interestingly, by coincidence, I was already prepping this news item, and you sent me a water-related news item. And I've read ones similar to this in my preparation, but this is a good example of this kind of research. So this says, the title is, Good Hydration Linked to Healthy Aging. However, when you delve into the details, there's a couple of, I think, issues with drawing that conclusion from the data. My big problem is that they were looking at serum sodium levels as a marker of hydration, which is problematic. Yeah, hmm. It's a little problematic because yes, your sodium levels will increase when you get dehydrated, but again, as a medical doctor, I'll tell you, you cannot rely upon the serum sodium levels because there's a lot of factors, including kidney function and your diet and et cetera.

C: Yeah, it's not just about how much water you drink. You could also be eating more salt.

S: Yeah, could be that.

C: Yeah, it could be that simple.

S: Exactly. So when we really need to know someone's hydration status, we test their urine osmolality. You don't test their blood serum, their blood sodium level. It's their urine that's more important. So it's kind of just a weird marker to use and just say this generally represents hydration.

C: It's also weird because it's more invasive. Isn't it easier to test somebody's urine?

S: Yeah.

C: Yeah, like what?

S: The other thing is that it's not a controlled study. It's an observational.

C: It's large.

S: It's observational. And then finally they were using people at the high end of the normal range of sodium. And so there's a lot of reasons why that could be those people could be not as healthy as people who were in the middle of the normal range of sodium.

C: Oh, right. They might actually be in maybe early kidney failure or something.

S: And then that does also correlate with a higher risk of heart failure. And it could be that more that they have a high salt diet than anything else. Or we know that a certain percentage of the population has to really watch their salt. Most people don't, et cetera. So just saying that this relates to how much water you drink or good hydration, I think is very problematic. I don't buy it basically. So and there's been other studies, again, that are similar, that are observational and they use markers and they don't really, they didn't do what the other study I spoke about did where they literally tracked your water turnover or used more accurate or I think more appropriate measures of hydration. I don't think that this changes our basic recommendation, which is just make sure you have access to water that you drink when you're thirsty. And for most people, that's really all you have to do. That was it. So is there an interesting study where they basically proved what we suspected that all those factors relate to how much water you need to drink?

Bioplastics (1:07:33)[edit]

S: OK, Cara.

C: Yes.

S: Tell us about bioplastics. Are they as good as everyone says?

C: Well, OK, there's been some coverage about a new article that was that just came out in Nature called Plastic Futures and their CO2 emissions. This was published on December 7th of last month. And then there's been some coverage that's been coming out since then. And what the kind of popular science journalist Matt Simon did when he wrote about this first for Wired was he first set the stage based on a warning, a World Economic Forum report about what we're headed for in terms of plastics if we don't change anything. So let's kind of transport to the year 2050. Plastic production has tripled. Trillions of pounds of plastic are being produced every year. And we're looking at the greenhouse gas equivalent of more than 600 coal-fired power plants. So in 2050, if nothing changes in terms of the plastic industry, fossil fuels will not be being used nearly as much for energy. We won't be seeing oil and gas being used to fuel our cars. We'll see all of that oil and gas that we saved by not fueling our cars diverted into plastic production. So obviously, people are going, that's not good. What can we do instead? And one of the big alternatives that's often posited is bioplastics, biobased plastics. So what is a bioplastic? Well when we think of a traditional plastic, basically plastic is just, it's carbon with some additional chemical plasticizers that keep it together to form these long chain polymers. Bioplastics also use carbon. The difference is that traditional plastics use carbon from fossil fuels. Bioplastics use carbon from crops. So you know, like let's say corn-based plastic. They both tend to need to use the same stabilizing and plasticizing chemicals though. So bioplastics aren't purely "green" or "natural". None of these words are really well regulated. But bioplastics still have to have components to them to make it into plastic and not just corn. So this article that came out last month in Nature is basically a predictor, a modeling what the future could look like with plastic in a full cradle to grave way. So basically they're looking at not just greenhouse gas emissions, but they're also looking at biomass use. They're looking at land use. They're really trying to look at all of the externalized costs that we often talk about on the show, not just one component of what this industry is measured by. And so this article was predicting beyond that 2050 World Economic Forum prediction into 2100. And they looked at different CO2 mitigation pathways. So they of course compared business as usual, no change. But then they also looked at the first scenario was the baseline. Like I said, the second one was what will happen if we tax CO2 emissions. The third one is what if we actually started to utilize a more circular economy? So actually make them recyclable because they are not by the way, plastic is basically not recyclable at all. There are a couple of exceptions to that rule, but even in the cases where we can recycle plastic, it can usually only be used one or two more times.

S: And it still ends up in the landfill.

C: It still ends up in the landfill.

S: Just delayed a couple of times.

C: Yeah. And that's best case scenario. The vast majority of plastic can't even go through our modern recycling centers. So keep that in mind. So their third mitigation factor is like what if they were more easily recycled or reused so that reduced emissions and also reduced demand because we had more of that product that wasn't raw to utilize. And then the last scenario was a full circular bio-economy. So plastic is mostly bioplastic. It's and it's reusable, recyclable, and more circular. So they basically are like, I mean, here's a quote from the study author. "Here we combine all of these. We have the CO2 price in place. We have circular economy strategies, but additionally we kind of push more biomass into the sector by giving it a certain subsidy." So basically what happens if we move over to bioplastic and we make all of these other mitigation efforts? And in this very, very best case scenario, they do say that there is an ideal in which negative emissions can be achieved. That requires this bio-based carbon sequestration. Basically what it means is that all of the plastic that is used initially is then recycled and utilized in long-term uses like building materials. So now all of that carbon is actually sunk. It's sequestered into the building material and it's not being broken down in nature. So that's a really important component of this modeling. They also show, okay, so through a combination of that bio-based carbon sequestration, biomass use and land filling, they can actually achieve negative emissions in the long-term, but it requires a massive amount of farming, a ton of primary feedstock, an unsustainable amount. And so then they looked at, like I said, this circular economy approach and they found that, yes, they can reduce resource consumption a fair amount, 30% and 10% more emission reduction, but it actually doesn't get you to full negative. What we do see though, in a lot of the kind of critical conversation around it, and even the study authors themselves say, a fully, this is a quote from one of the authors of the paper: "a fully circular plastic sector will be impossible as long as plastic demand keeps growing." And I think this is the thing that we have to remember. Petrochemicals pivoting to utilizing fossil fuels for plastics is a fundamental strategy of the fossil fuel companies right now. They know that their product needs a new home because there's a big economic and humanistic push basically to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for energy. And the fossil fuel industry is going, okay, how else can we be used? We're already heavily in plastics. We're already heavily in fertilizer. We have to continue to move in that direction. And as long as there is a demand for single use plastics, and as long as single use plastics are not regulated, yes, maybe we'll move into bioplastics, and yes, maybe we will reduce some amount of emissions, but sadly, most of the modeling shows that unless we're talking about a perfect ideal scenario in which 100% of the plastic is circular, this is not going to be sustainable. We've seen that... Here's something interesting. There's a researcher named Janis Brizga. She's at the University of Latvia. She was not involved in this paper. She said that this increases the already huge pressure on land use. Land use change has been one of the main drivers for biodiversity loss, and we're just pushing out all of these other species. And she modeled in 2020, basically calculated how much land it would take to grow enough plants for bioplastics to completely replace traditional fossil fuel-based plastics and packaging. And at a minimum, it would require an area larger than France. And it would require 60% more water than the EU's annual freshwater withdrawal. That's not sustainable.

E: Nope.

S: Yeah. So one of two things needs to happen, it sounds like. Either we need to dramatically decrease our plastic use, especially single-use plastic.

C: Especially single-use, yeah.

S: Or we need a disruptive technology, which of course may happen, but you can't count on.

C: You can't rely on that.

S: You can't rely on it.

C: And there's literally no reason not to reduce single-use plastics.

S: Well, we've got to do that while we're... And fine, look for the thing that will disrupt the equation here. Like for example-

C: And bioplastics is not that.

S: Yeah, well, unless they find a feedstock that is already there, but doesn't need land, doesn't need new resources, it's just like waste or something. Yeah, we can make plastic bottles now out of this waste stream that otherwise was going into landfill or whatever. That would be great. That could work.

C: There's also a couple of things, and I know I'm kind of like interjecting into your comment, but there's a couple of things that we didn't really talk about and we don't have to spend too much time on. But apparently the research into the breakdown products of bioplastics is not very robust. And microplastics are still a potential problem even with bioplastic. So just because they're not utilizing fossil fuels doesn't mean that the same plasticizing chemicals that are present for these bonds aren't there. And it doesn't mean that we're not going to see a lot of the same downstream effects of these things not fully breaking down in the environment. And also early research has shown that microplastics actually release methane. So now we've got to add that back to our big circular conversation, to our calculations about greenhouse gases. So it's like plastic is just bad at every step. It's bad in the sourcing. It's bad in the production. It's bad in the use. It's bad in the refuse afterward. And we can't just think about, OK, we just need a new product that fully replaces plastic because we have to think about all of the steps.

S: The fundamental problem is that there's 8 billion people living on this planet, and anything that we do is going to have a huge impact on the world. You know what I mean?

C: Yeah. And we just don't look at plastic yet. And maybe it's because it's just too convenient. But what the authors of this article, not the Nature paper, but the coverage of the Nature paper in Wired and also in Undark, it was a republication. Basically they make a comment, and they're kind of not mincing words, but they're like, as long as plastic is cheap, as long as it's cheap and easy, we're not going to be incentivized not to use it. It's just too cheap. And too easy.

S: Well, that's where the externalizing the cost comes in. It's only artificially cheap because we allow all the costs to be externalized, all the environmental costs. But if you count them, suddenly it's not so cheap anymore. It's like externalizing the cost for fossil fuel. It's the same thing. It's only the cheapest form of energy because we let them put all the environmental costs on just the public at large rather than accounting for it in the cost of the fuel itself.

C: And that's such an important point that you're making. And I think it bears repeating because sometimes we use terminology as a shorthand that helps us just communicate more clearly. We say externalized cost. That's an important term to use to say basically we're taking all of the literal pricing, the physical cost, out of the producers—or sorry, the liability, basically the cost liability away from the producers—and then we're placing it on the downstream effects, right? So it's like on the environment or on the end user. And I think it's important that we really say these external costs are not just financial.

S: They're health.

C: They're health. Yeah. It's health. It's wellness of the ecosystem. It's our own physical health. And so it's oftentimes that I think we talk about these things in terms of an economic structure because it cleans up the data and it makes it easy to go apples to apples. But then I think it's really important that we zoom back out and go, we are talking about living creatures. There's a moral component to this that we can't just ignore for the sake of the science. And so yeah, it's sort of all bad right now and we need to figure out, like you said, we need to make a lot of changes.

S: Plastic is one of those looming problems that we're sort of paying attention to but we're sort of also just letting it happen in the background. But I'm definitely hoping for the disruptive technology because that's I think has the greatest possibility of succeeding if we can develop it. But the problem is just as we know, as futurists, that's why they're disruptive because you cannot plan on them. You cannot count on them.

C: And let's not assume that bioplastic is this savior disruptive technology.

S: It's not a panacea to the problem. It's a trade-off. It's a different set of problems. And sometimes you just need to sort of spread things out so you're at least not tripling down on one problem. So maybe there'll be a role for limited bioplastics, especially if we're using waste stock. Things like corn husks, things that are already sort of in the stream that are not, we're not going to be dedicating land to growing feedstock for bioplastics.

C: Because it already solves some of those problems that utilizing fossil fuels create. But it doesn't solve all of them.

S: Same thing with biofuel. We don't have the land to grow biofuel. We have to source it from something else. And they are working on things like that grown algae and stuff like that. So that may cross over from the biofuel to the bioplastic world. But it's also now it's for those kinds of things, it's the scalability issue. That's the problem.

C: But the low-hanging fruit here, I mean, you hit the nail on the head earlier. It's like we have to like heat homes and we have to have transportation so that people don't die. There are fundamental reasons that we need energy. There are very few, we can pick examples in healthcare, for example, where we need single-use plastic, of course, for like tubing. For there are a million healthcare applications.

S: For sanitary reasons, yeah.

C: Yeah, sanitary reasons. And there's some humanitarian reasons that we need single-use plastics. But the vast majority of single-use plastic in the system right now is, honestly, it's kind of, it's gratuitous.

S: Yeah, it's gratuitous. That's a good word.

C: It's just laziness. It's just convenient.

S: All right, Cara, I'm going to connect my item to your item.

C: Oh, good. Okay.

S: Because guess who is behind spreading the myth that you need to drink eight glasses of water a day?

C: The plastics industry?

S: No, the bottled water industry.

C: Well, bottled water, yeah. Not surprised.

S: They literally have been promoting this myth because it and that you have to not only drink a lot of fluid, but you have to drink water specifically because that's their product.

C: Can you imagine, Steve?

E: Yeah, but it's based on their own studies.

S: And that's the thing.

C: There are people out there...

S: It's based on nothing. You're just saying. It's like something everybody knows. You have to drink eight of these bottles a day that we're trying to sell you.

C: There are people out there who are rich enough and, I guess, gratuitous and don't care enough to actually do this. But can you imagine if every person on the planet literally used eight single-use plastic bottles a day?

S: Yeah. Yeah.

C: Oh, my god.

S: That's a lot of plastic.

C: Wow.

S: Okay.

C: Horrifying.

S: All right. Let's move on.

GPS on the Moon (1:23:37)[edit]

S: Jay, tell us about GPS on the moon.

E: Oh, cool. Finally.

S: So when I'm driving my lunar car around, I'll know where to go.

C: Oh, I want one.

J: Little did we know that we need GPS on the moon, right? Yeah. So UK engineers are testing a device called the NaviMoon, or if you like Avatar, the Na'viMoon, that will bring GPS navigation to the moon. (laughter) That will bring GPS navigation to the moon. So what's the big deal? Why are we even thinking about this? Well, let me give you some back story.

E: We're future-proofing it. So when we get there, we're going to need it.

J: The company doing this is based in Switzerland, and they're called SpacePNT. Now this developing GPS for the moon is considered a required step in order to one day soon have a permanent base on the moon. Today, all GPS navigation comes from antennas on earth, of course, because that's where we've developed our GPS system. Earth-based GPS wasn't designed to work in the space between the earth and the moon or on the moon itself. It literally is spillover radio transmission that happens to weekly reach the moon. It's far from ideal, and with good reason. Today's GPS was designed to broadcast straight down to the earth. The signal that reaches the moon today is a thousand times weaker. It's not strong. It's really, it's almost unusable. So today's earth has 53 GPS satellites, which gives us coverage for the entire planet. Now the reason we need accurate GPS in the space between earth and the moon and on the moon itself is for simply space navigation. Today scientists have to use incredibly complicated physics calculations and computers and all sorts of ways to figure out exactly every single move that the rocket and the spacecraft need to make well in advance because they're picking out launch windows and all of these complicated things that come into play. It's all planned out to the decimal point. But if we had a navigation system like NaviMoon, they would be able to get an accuracy of 330 feet or a hundred meters, which is more accurate than what reaches the moon today from the earth and it's accurate enough to do everything that we would need to do in lunar orbit. The NaviMoon system will have up to five satellites that will give the moon surface complete GPS coverage, including the dark side, which isn't dark. This system will provide GPS coverage for landing on the moon, launching from the moon and lunar operations and flying to the moon back and forth. So the NaviMoon system, it's being tested right now and expectations are that there'll be a flight model ready later this year, which will be deployed in 2024 to early 2025. So this is another one of those, we've developed the technology, we know what we're going to put in place, it's going to be used, it's heavily necessary, we just got to do it in order to do what we're going to end up doing on the moon. Having a permanent moon base means that there's going to be ships flying back and forth quite often and we don't want to be limited by having to run all these super complicated calculations and that's error prone too. If we're going to make a mistake, it's likely that we're going to make mistakes with these physics calculations that could take months to develop. So this is a great thing that's already the technology's here, unlike the lander and the spacesuits, we pretty much have this one nailed.

S: So when's it going to be up and running? Or is it, they don't have a date yet?

J: So they're thinking that they're going to deploy it in late 2024 to early 2025. So you know, Artemis II-

S: It'll be there when Artemis III lands on the moon with people.

J: Yeah, so by Artemis III, that's the important one. Now, the sooner the better, of course, because it'll help with everything along the way. But we have the technology though. This is like the MOXIE machine that we've talked about that creates oxygen. Proof of concept, done. Deployable, yes. Scaled up, no problem. We've pretty much nailed this one. And we're seeing the beginnings of a moon earth infrastructure.

E: They have to fix the name. It can't be GPS.

J: Yeah, they'll come up with something.


E: Yeah, LPS.

S: Lunar positioning system, LPS.

J: How about Alpha Base One Navigation System?

E: A, B, O, N.

C: I know, I'm doing the exact same thing. ABON.


E: We got to find a new letter to slam in there somehow and artificially make it reasonable sounding.

Russia Fears Western Psychics (1:28:28)[edit]

S: So, Evan, this is our psychic predictions episode and you're going to have a news item about psychics, sort of.

E: Yes, time for the hard science here. The website is called and this article was written by Lauren Wolf. Thank you, Lauren. And here's the title. "Russia is afraid of Western psychic attacks." Pseudoscience and mysticism are common among the Moscow elite and apparently security forces and military as well. In Moscow, we have a leak. The Federal Guard Service of the Russian Federation, and here's how it reads in phonetic Russian, Federalnya Zluvba Orani [Federalnaya sluzhba okhrany].

S: That was terrible.

C: Your Russian is just, mwah. I love it.

E: I mean, I'm like a native Muscovite there. Or the FSO. I'm just going to call it FSO because that's what they call it. Fine. That's a federal government agency concerned with the tasks related to the protection of several high ranking state officials, including the president of Russia, as well as certain federal properties. So I suppose the United States equivalent would be our country's secret service. To put it in sort of an apples to apples comparison as best as I can figure it out. But a classified FSO memo was apparently leaked back in October and it's making the news rounds now. Apparently, you need some time to verify these things. But the memo outlines preparations against: "psychological infection of personnel by an enemy who would manipulate them through hypnosis, as well as through unknown mystical and psychic powers". Yep. So the authors of this memo emphasize that the enemy us among other countries that are having issues with Russia right now, we are cunning and insidious and will seek to decrease the psychological stability of the personnel. There will be moral disorientation of personnel and bringing them to a state of unwillingness to resist. And they list some of the main threats there. Television, radio, print media, social networks, Internet, books, brochures, flyers and posters. Fair enough. That's standard sort of what psyops. That's not new. This has happened quite a bit throughout history and all of the worlds and in various mediums. But here's the secret sauce. In addition to social networks and hypnosis, Russia's enemies intend to use more sophisticated methods. So apparently we're going to use software and hardware bookmarks containing the functions of creating sound and visual effects. We're going to use psycho corrective games as well as chemical and biological formulations of psychological action. We're going to use, and when I say we, United States, we're going to use computer psi viruses, PSI viruses and programs of hidden influence on the operator of operators of computer equipment. We are also going to unleash our psi generators, our low frequency acoustic generators, advertising products and everyday items in prepared packaging. That is the list. So yeah, psycho corrective games, computer psi viruses and psi generators. That's what the CIA I think was working on back in the 70s or something. This does kind of harken back to sort of that 70s psychic warfare phenomenon, I guess for lack of a better term, that was taking place in the Cold War era. Certainly, yes, we in our military and covert operations were looking at it, studying it and trying to figure out if it works. And apparently Russia was, and the Soviet Union at the time was also doing the same thing. But hey, both sides eventually figured out this isn't really working to any degree and those programs were ultimately closed down. They said in the article: "what remains a mystery is what is meant by prepared packaging?" Like wrapping paper that says drop your weapons and surrender. They have no clue basically as to where they pulled that out of. But the author of this report, his name is Deputy Director Alexander Komov and he is responsible for the implementation of this secret plan. This fellow is interesting. Last year he took part in a conference titled Modern Problems of Remote Sensing of the Earth from Space, suggesting that you can use remote sensing sort of to get a bird's eye view, if you will, of the planet and see what's going on just using psychic powers. It is also suggested by those in the know who particularly know this individual who's in charge of this. They say he runs a group of freelance advisors that include astrologers, black magicians and psychics. Belief in mystic powers is somewhat common in Russia. Roughly 20% of people have visited a psychic and more than 60% believe in some form of magic. I don't know how different frankly that is from us in the United States. I would imagine those numbers aren't all that far off from that. So it may seem shocking but actually I wasn't shocked to read that at all. And it's long been rumored that Russian leaders, especially Vladimir Putin, believe in mysticism, astrology, numerology and psychics. When you're thinking about Russia and psychics, I think of mainly two things. Randi, James Randi, as back on his series – what was it called? Secrets of the Psychics. Whole part of that Nova series was James Randi having gone to Russia to investigate a whole bunch of psychics over there that were people making all sorts of paranormal claims. This was in the early 90s. So this was right after the dissolution of the USSR and apparently all this stuff sort of came out and people were looking to influence other people using a lot of psychic jargon and tricks and all the other things that go hand in hand with that. So yeah, there's definitely some history there for that. The other thing this reminded me of is a news item I reported on specifically about Vladimir Putin years ago in which he bathes in blood of severed antlers from Siberian red deers because he believes that it gives him strength and slows the aging process. A total bunch of pseudoscience nonsense steeped in nothing, certainly nothing scientific at all, but is definitely a cultural phenomenon and very much embraced by a lot of powerful people apparently in Russia. So I think the – again, the author of this particular article, Lauren Wolf, definitely has hit on something in that where pseudoscience and mysticism are common among the Moscow elite and clearly that also goes into the beliefs of people in charge of some very high positions involved with security and military.

S: Yeah, I mean it's always interesting when that kind of pseudoscientific belief occurs in an individual at such high governmental levels. It always reminds me of Reagan's use of astrology to set his schedule.

E: Yes, it reminds me of that as well.

C: It's so scary.

E: It is scary.

C: You think about somebody who has so much power, like relying on just abject nonsense.

E: Right. What if astrology and numerology says, hey, fire up the nukes, right?

C: Exactly.

E: I mean who knows where this sort of really – oh my gosh, medieval way of thinking can lead you. It is scary to think about, Cara. I share that fear.

S: OK. Thanks, Evan.

E: Yep.

Who's That Noisy? (1:36:27)[edit]

Answer to previous Noisy:
Pulling tape off a roll, with tension

S: Jay, get us caught up on Who's That Noisy.

J: All right, guys. Last week I played this Noisy. [plays noisy] It goes on and on. I had a lot of people come in with guesses and the first person, Perry Haddock, said: "Hey, guys, long time listener, first time participant, love the show. I believe this week's noisy is thin plastic grocery bag that has been set on fire."

C: Oh, cool.

J: "The noise is the melting plastic dripping from a few feet in the air onto the ground."

E: Sounds toxic.

C: It's not bad, is it?

J: He says: "Thank you for all you do. You have a huge fan in Kansas." So wow, that's interesting that you hear that there. I'm trying to imagine what it would sound like with a plastic bag burning. I don't know if it would make such a loud noise. I would hate to do this because it would be bad. It's like bad for the environment. But I wonder if that would make a noise. Maybe someone who's done that can let us know. But that is not correct. A listener named Dan Lee wrote in and he said: "Jay, the noisy sounded like marbles rolling through plastic pipes that followed a three crested wave." And I kind of can hear that. I can I could hear marbles in a plastic pipe to some degree, but that is not correct as well. Now we'll move on to someone that none of us know anything about. Visto Tutti wrote in and he said: "It sounds musical, almost like a string instrument, but the distribution of events sounds like rainfall. I'm guessing it's the sound of a burst of meteors hitting Earth's atmosphere." That one was cool. I thought that was a very interesting guess. Not correct, but not a bad try. I had a close guess here by a listener named Melanie and she said: "Hey Jay, as someone who has worked in stock merchandising for a decade, this week's noisy sounds exactly like plastic wrap being wrapped around a pallet of milk crates. The change in pitch comes when the top plastic hits the corner of the crate." Wow, Melanie, you were very close, very close. Not correct, but almost. So that's why I labeled you as a close guess. We had a lot, a lot of people guess correctly. I had a couple of people, Jim Lovell and Casey Durow both guessed correctly. James wrote in first and he said: "Hey, there, I've been listening for a few years, love the show and finally joined as a patron. My guess for this week's noisy is a long strip of tape being pulled from a roll. Thank you all for what you do and keep up the great work." So yeah, I mean, did you guys recognize this sound?

C: No.

B: Yeah, I couldn't quite think of it. I knew that I knew it, but I couldn't figure it out.

J: As someone who uses tape all the time, I'm like constantly using gaffer tape. This is exactly what it sounds like when you pull tape off of a roll under tension. Listen again.

S: Yeah, I recognize that.

E: The tape or the puller?

C: Yeah, now I hear it completely.

J: I wonder what's making the musical notes in there though.

C: I think it's just because it's so long. So you're having the variations.

J: Yeah, it's kind of vibrating somehow.

C: Well, it vibrates as it pulls off the roll.

J: Yeah, that's interesting noise. Definitely in my opinion, it's unique. I've heard it so many times throughout my life, especially in the last 15 years. So anyway, so thank you all for sending in those guesses.

New Noisy (1:39:49)[edit]

J: And I have a new noisy for this week. The noisy for this week was sent in by a listener named Paul Hatton, and he starts the email with J-Bob. Because people have to hedge their bets. They're not quite sure who the hell they're talking to.

E: Does he identify as he him? Because we can call him Manhattan.

C: Good, I like that.

E: Yeah.

J: All right, guys, what the heck is this?

[gremlin noises]

E: Jay, did you laugh all that?

C: I did. I'm sorry.

[gremlin noises continues]

C: No.

J: This one cracks me up because I can make a noise exactly like that. I could totally make that noise, but that is not me. But that is not me. It is not me. It's something that happened in the real world. So if you think you know what the noisy is, you got to send me in those noisies, guys, because first off, I'll feature you on the show. Second of all, I'm tapped out. I have searched the web so extensively, I can't find noisies anymore. I need your help. So email me at

S: All right. Thank you, Jay. Do we have nothing to promote? I guess we have nothing coming up.

C: We did all the things.

J: Well, you and I need to talk, Steve. We want to tell everyone our ideas, but we have an idea for a show.

S: We could talk really quick.

E: Chicago, Chicago, Chicago.

B: Yeah.

S: All right, everyone. Let's go on with science or fiction.


Science or Fiction (1:41:17)[edit]

Theme: New species discovered in 2022

Item #1: Herpetologists have described a chocolate frog in the Peruvian Amazon that looks so much like chocolate, you would almost eat it.[5]
Item #2: Scientists describe a species of anemone that spends most of their life on the backs of one species of hermit crab in an example of obligate symbiosis.[6]
Item #3: Ornithologists have discovered a small species of snowy owl that live exclusively in Antarctic cliffs and eat mostly snails.[7]

Answer Item
Fiction Antarctic snowy owl
Science Chocolate frog
Obligate symbiotes
Host Result
Steve swept
Rogue Guess
Antarctic snowy owl
Antarctic snowy owl
Antarctic snowy owl
Antarctic snowy owl

Voice-over: It's time for Science or Fiction.

S: Each week I come up with new science news items or facts, two real and one fake. Then I challenge my panel of skeptics to tell me which one is the fake. We have a clean slate. Brand new year. That is zero, zero, zero. So we'll see how well we do for the first science or fiction of 2023. I am bringing back-

J: Sexy?

S: -a theme that I've used previously.

C: OK.

S: New species discovered in 2022.

C: Are these, have we like, we've covered all of these, haven't we? And we still won't know?

S: No, I don't recognize any of them. You may have, but I haven't, I did not recognize them.

C: Oh, okay. Not that it would make a difference.

E: Total guesswork here.

S: Okay. Here we go. Item #1: Herpetologists have described a chocolate frog in the Peruvian Amazon that looks so much like chocolate you would almost eat it. Item #2: Scientists describe a species of anemone that spends most of their life on the backs of one species of hermit crab in an example of obligate symbiosis. That means they can't live without each other. And item #3: Ornithologists have discovered a small species of snowy owl that live exclusively in Antarctic cliffs and eat mostly snails. All right. For the first one of the year, Jay, you're going to go first.

Jay's Response[edit]

J: First of all we know about the Harry Potter chocolate frogs.

E: That's true.

J: They've only got one good jump in them, but you're talking about a frog that looks chocolatey, might actually be delicious if you tried to eat it because it must be coated in chocolate somehow. All right. So the question is whether or not this frog exists. Is that the question, Steve?

C: Discovered in 2022, right?

S: Yeah.

C: All of them.

S: Described in 2022.

C: Yeah. Sorry. Thank you. Sometimes they were known to somebody somewhere.

C: Of course.

S: Usually local populations. They were described by populations, but they were first time described by science.

C: In the scientific literature.

S: Yeah.

C: Yeah.

J: You know, it's interesting to think that we're still finding animals. I mean, I guess sure. Why not? I mean, they found a dark colored frog that no one has seen before. I would say that one is science. The second one, scientists describe a species of anemone.

S: Anemone.

J: Forget it. I can't say the word.

C: It's a hard word. That's like one of the hard words.

S: I was thinking of that joke with fronds like this, who needs anemone?

B: Wow. Wow.

E: You're stealing all my best stuff before I even started.

C: Also, if you were first coming across the word anemone in like a book, you would say anemone.

S: Anemone.

B: That's true. But anemone is so-

C: It's so much better.

B: So much better.

J: So apparently this one has a symbiotic relationship with a hermit crab. And sure, symbiosis exists in the wild, but that's a weird little combination there. It's totally like a kid's book, you know? And the last one, ornithologists have discovered a small species of snowy owl that lives exclusively in Antarctic cliffs and eats mostly snails. Well, my question is, would there be snails in the Antarctic? In the Antarctic? I don't know.

E: Yeah, in the frozen food section.

J: Like what the hell? Wouldn't they just freeze and be, I don't know if they would be able to handle the cold. I'm going to say that that third one is the fiction because of that, Steve.

S: Okay. Evan?

Evan's Response[edit]

E: Yeah, I'm going to say the frog one. Yeah, looking like chocolate. Okay. If the frog is brightly colored, like fluorescent green or yellow or stuff that indicates it's more poisonous, and I suppose it affords the species a survival trait because things aren't going to eat you if you're poisonous. But if you're chocolate and delicious though, everything is going to eat you. (Cara laughs) I mean, unless humans are the only thing that- Right?

C: I love it. You're so funny. Like a Valentine's treat.

E: Unless humans are the only thing that see chocolate colored things as delicious, which might be the case here. So I don't think I helped discern this one. Then the second one about the anemone, spending most of their life on the backs of one species. Yeah. It sounds right to me. And I think there are other examples of this in nature. And then the last one, which Jay said is fiction. Snowy owl. A snowy owl. I mean, there are snow owls, but they live exclusively in the Antarctic. They have to lay eggs. Antarctic. Yeah, this one's a tough one, Jay. I think I'm kind of with you on this one. I think there's too much kind of working against this one. Owls in the Arctic surviving and eating the snails. Either of those parts could be wrong. So I'm going to say that's fiction as well.

S: Okay. Cara?

Cara's Response[edit]

C: I love Evan's conceptualization that there is like natural chocolate, like that they're like chocolate bars in nature.

E: Just color-wise. Color-wise.

C: Not like cocoa, you know? It's so good. There's just like chocolate hanging out. Yeah. I mean, I've been to the Amazon. It's brown. You know? It's green up high. And when you look down, it's just brown and muddy at your feet. You actually wear boots, waterproof boots when you go on hikes. You have to. Wellies, basically. It's the only way you can hike. So I could see there being a bunch of frogs that just blend in with the muck. Why not? And it would probably be hard to see them. So it'd take a while before you saw them for the first time or the second or the third time. That doesn't surprise me. The sea anemone, I mean, they grow on something, right? Anemone's aren't free-floating, I don't think. Maybe there are some species. But I think they're usually, when you see them in, what do you call it, fish tanks, they're usually attached to rocks or stuff. So hermit crabs look like rocks. They're like little rocks with legs. So why not? So I'm going with the guys because I don't know if there are owls in Antarctica. I don't think there are that many things that live in Antarctica. And owl's kind of a big thing. I know there are penguins. I don't think there are owls.

S: All right. And Bob.

Bob's Response[edit]

B: I mean, frog sounds totally, totally cromulent. So no problem with that. At first, the hermit crab anemone, I had a problem with that. But I'm thinking that mainly because you say that they're obligate symbiosis. At first I was like, what? But then, yeah, I mean, the crab can move the thing around and give it access to more fish or whatever it eats. But also the crab, the crab could grab little leftovers or food or fish that it doesn't necessarily sting or whatever. So still though, the idea that they both need each other to survive is a little tough. But maybe where they are is such slim pickings that together they do a better job. So I guess that that makes more sense now that I think about it. So I'll go with the crew and the snowy owl, yeah, just strikes, just rubs me a little bit more wrong than the other ones.

S: Okay. So we'll take these in order.

Steve Explains Item #1[edit]

S: Start with number one. Herpetologists have described a chocolate frog in the Peruvian Amazon that looks so much like chocolate, you would almost eat it. You guys all think this one is science and this one is science.

C: Oh, it's like shiny.

S: It looks like freaking chocolate.

C: It also kind of just looks like poop.

S: I mean, if you show me a picture of that and said it was the frog from Harry Potter, I would believe you if I don't look too closely.

E: Sure. I mean, the black [inaudible].

S: There's the website just-

B: Holy crap, yeah.

E: Once again, Harry Potter successfully predicts the future.

S: I mean, you look at that thing. Yeah, that's chocolate frog.

J: That looks like it came right out of the movie.

S: Yeah.

C: It's got a weird shaped face.

S: Yeah, I know it's called a taper frog because its nose looks like that of a taper.

C: That's weird.

S: Synapturanus danta is the name.

Steve Explains Item #2[edit]

S: Okay, let's go on to item number two. Scientists describe a species of anemone that spends most of their life on the backs of one species of hermit crab in an example of obligate symbiosis. You guys all think this one is science and this one is also science. You guys always sweep me on this one. I almost didn't do it because you're just (laughter) sniffing out my fake animals. Scroll down, I think two or three images there and you'll see. Yeah, so there's this anemone on the back of a crab they observed, in one instance, they observed the crab spending 40 hours dragging an anemone onto its back and getting to follow it. So the anemone basically keeps the crab healthy by getting rid of all the parasites. The crab gives the anemone access to new sources of food by moving it around. The anemone can also eat falling debris and all the parasites and everything that come off of the crab. So yep, and they're obligate. They don't survive without each other. They're obligate symbiotes.

Steve Explains Item #3[edit]

S: All this means that ornithologists have discovered a small species of snowy owl that live exclusively in Antarctic cliffs and eat mostly snails is the fiction. There are no owls in Antarctica. It is the only continent in the world without owls. Owls pretty much everywhere else. And that is still true. That would be huge news if they discovered owls in Antarctica. But no, I made that one up. And yeah, a lot of raptors eat snails. They're usually in shallow water. So that's pretty plausible actually. But yeah, but there's no owls that anybody knows of in Antarctica. So good job, everyone. You're all starting off with 100%. Usually you do. You guys usually sweep me on the first science or fiction of the year.

E: Is that true?

S: Yeah, usually. So you're starting off with 100% which is good. It won't last. Don't worry.

Skeptical Quote of the Week (1:52:00)[edit]

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Groucho Marx (1890-1977), American comedian, actor, writer, stage, film, radio, singer, television star, and vaudeville performer

S: All right, Evan, give us a quote.

E: "The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you got it made." Of course, Groucho Marx. So many good Groucho Marx quotes. I wanted to start. I wanted a little humor to start the year. Little humor to get us going. I was also going to go, here's the runner up. Ready? "Those are my principles. If you don't like them, well, I have others." (laughter)

S: I remember that one.

C: That's funny.

E: That's so good.

S: Yeah.

E: Infinitely quotable.

S: Very funny guy.

E: Legendary. And a good skeptic actually. Groucho has some ties to skepticism. So good for him.

S: Many intellectuals do.

E: I agree. Yes.

S: Well, thank you guys for joining me for the first show of the year. It was a lot of fun.

J: You got it, brother.

S: It was a fun episode.

E: Good start. Let's keep it going.


S: Well, thank you guys for joining me for the first show of the year.

S: It was a lot of fun.

E: You got it, man.

E: It was a fun episode.

S: It's always a good start.

S: Let's keep it going.

S: All right.

S: Until next week, this is your Skeptics' Guide to the Universe.

S: Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is produced by SGU Productions, dedicated to promoting science and critical thinking. For more information, visit us at Send your questions to And, if you would like to support the show and all the work that we do, go to and consider becoming a patron and becoming part of the SGU community. Our listeners and supporters are what make SGU possible.


Today I Learned[edit]

  • Fact/Description, possibly with an article reference[8]
  • Fact/Description
  • Fact/Description




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